The Olympic games started it all for Marketa Davidova
"Maybe it was not my first biathlon competition but it was definitely the biggest one at a young age. In the Czech Republic, we have Olympic games for small kids from every district. The (headline) photo is from these races!"
Big inspiration kicked it off for Olena Bilosiuk
"When I was 11 years old, I happened to see a biathlon competition on television. I was incredibly impressed by what I saw. On the day, Ukrainian athlete Olena Zubrilova took second place. And then I thought if a Ukrainian woman is on the podium, it means there are super coaches in Ukraine. The seed was sown. And in a few years, I competed for the first time."
Wrong group for Maya Cloetens
Maya Cloetens' first competition was a memorable one. "I couldn't find my name on the result sheets. I thought there was a problem, but ultimately I found my name on the boys' results. I won the race! We were all just kids: I enjoyed this time when everyone was competing at the same level."
Adam Runnalls had many firsts in his first competition
"My first ever biathlon race was my first time shooting or skiing in skating. I never had the chance to try biathlon beforehand, so I went straight to the competition. I missed all 10 targets and could not figure out the skiing. But I loved it and haven't stopped since."
Disqualification for Lea Meier
"I got disqualified! I couldn't remove the magazine from the airgun after the shooting because it was frozen!"
A lot of missed targets
Many of the biathletes were not so accurate at the start of their career. "I was 14, and I hit one of ten targets and was the last in the competition. I was motivated to continue," Suvi Minkkinen told us.
"In my first race, I did not even hit the target. I hope I didn't shoot a bird!" Elisa Gasparin laughs.
Photo: Athletes's personal archive